Hall Of Fame coach Jerry Sloan is fighting Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia. The 74-year-old coach received the diagnosis last fall.
The former Utah Jazz coach said his symptoms are becoming more evident, including hushed voice and tremors, so he decided to go public with his condition.
"I'm not looking for publicity. But I feel I have to talk straight to people so they know what's going on," said Sloan.
According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, the neurological disease is characterized by tremors, inflexibility and slowness of movement. In the course of the disease, patients can encounter gait and balance problems. Some patients can also experience strain in fine motor movements, reduced facial expressions and even lowered voice volume.
On the other hand, Lewy body disease is a type of dementia. It can also cause tremors and slow movement, hallucinations and problems with attention and alertness.
Tammy, Sloan's wife, first noticed the Parkinson's-like symptoms roughly a year ago. Symptoms included tremors in Sloan's right hand. They talked to their son, who is a medical doctor, and then decided to take several neurological tests.
After receiving his diagnosis, Sloan continues to see his doctors. One doctor suggested learning a foreign language to help keep his brain active. For coordination, the doctor suggested learning to play the piano.
But Sloan declined and said he didn't like school. Instead, he sticks to a routine at home. He walks 4 miles every morning, usually with his dog. To help him remember any upcoming events, Tammy keeps a calendar on Sloan's wooden desk.
Judy Adams, a former executive assistant to the Utah Jazz, organized a surprise birthday party last week as Sloan turned 74. Close friends attended the surprise party, including Sloan's former boss, Frank Layden, the one who hired him as one of the Utah Jazz assistant coaches for in 1984.
"We know he will approach this fight with the same grit and determination he displayed as a Hall of Fame coach and All-Star player in the NBA for 40-plus years," said Utah Jazz' statement about Sloan's announcement. The team added that Sloan is and will always be a beloved part of their family.
According to Tammy, there are good days and not-so-good days. But during the surprise birthday party, Sloan was in his "prime form."